Iraq's government has said a man held recently is not Saddam Hussein's top aide Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, ending conflicting reports about his arrest.
Douri (left) was one of Saddam's most trusted confidants
"The person that has been arrested, after appropriate medical tests, was not al-Douri," interior ministry spokesman Sabah Kahdim said.
"We all make mistakes," Mr Kahdim's statement said, referring to Sunday's announcements by some Iraqi officials.
They claimed that Mr Douri had been captured during a shootout in Tikrit.
The US military earlier had made it clear Mr Douri was not in their custody. The Iraqi national guard later denied involvement in any operation in Tikrit, north of Baghdad.
Mr Kahdim's statement said the detained man was one of Mr Douri's relatives, and was "also wanted by the state".
'$10m price tag'
There have been several previous false reports about his arrest.
Mr Douri has been described as the most senior figure in the former regime still at large.
He was Saddam Hussein's number two in the Revolutionary Command Council, and is sixth on the US list of 55 most-wanted members of the regime.
The top five have all been captured or killed.
Mr Douri is accused of financing insurgent groups. Washington has offered a $10m reward for information leading to his capture.